When the Maine Principals’ Association singles tennis state tournament resumes Friday morning at Portland’s Deering Oaks Park, 48 boys and 48 girls will continue on a path leading to semifinals and championship matches on Memorial Day at Bates College in Lewiston.

Notably, the tournament will not include some of Maine’s most talented high school tennis players.

Lana Mavor of Yarmouth won the girls’ singles title last spring as a sophomore, but opted this spring to concentrate instead on USTA tournaments and higher-level training.

Nathan Mao, a freshman at Mt. Ararat in Topsham, made a similar decision. In last summer’s Betty Blakeman Memorial Tournament, the biggest event on the Maine Tennis Association calendar, Mao knocked off two-time MPA singles champ Nick Mathieu, a 2017 graduate of Mt. Ararat, 6-7 (7-4), 7-5, 6-1, before losing to a college senior in the quarterfinals.

Mao and his doubles partner from Massachusetts won a national doubles title last August. In recent months Mao, 15, has played in Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina and Missouri.

He said skipping high school tennis in Maine wasn’t an easy decision, “but in the end, I really want to pursue national junior tournaments. The high school season would have gotten in the way of that, and I didn’t have a burning desire to play and try to win a high school state singles tournament.”

Mao’s older brother, Peter, is a Mt. Ararat senior seeded fourth in the boys’ tournament. Falmouth junior Nick Forester, a finalist last spring, is the top seed.

The top seeds for girls are sisters Rosemary Campanella (a senior at Wells) and Grace Campanella (a sophomore at Kennebunk), who play for the same co-op team. Their only losses this spring have been challenge matches to each other.

Saturday’s schedule includes the Rounds of 16 and quarterfinals.

Dariy Vykhodtsev, a Thornton Academy junior, was a singles finalist as a freshman and semifinalist as a sophomore. He, too, is training and playing outside of high school competition this spring, mostly at Foreside Tennis Academy in Falmouth.

Vykhodtsev said a part of him will miss the excitement of the high school tournament – “It’s a special occasion” – but at the same time, “I have more important goals in front of me. To get into college and get a good education.”

Mike Hill, director of Foreside Tennis Academy, is a three-time former singles state champion from Mt. Ararat who went on to play at Brown University. He said he enjoyed his high school tennis experience.

“I had a lot of friends on the team and it was a good change-up from the regular tournament schedule that I played throughout the rest of the year,” he said. “But everybody has their own story. People who choose not to play high school tennis … see it as a decision to train at a higher level rather than compete in a schedule that might not be as difficult as they prefer.”

Mavor, who recently turned 17, has played in Florida, Alabama and California in recent months. National tournaments in South Carolina and California again are on her summer docket.

“It was pretty fun,” Mavor said of her two seasons with the Yarmouth High team. “I miss it. But looking back, I think it was a smart decision in terms of school and time and stuff.”

On Monday afternoon, Peter Mao traveled to Augusta for a match against Cony High and Nathan Mao was in St. Louis at a Level II national tournament. Nathan said he would be in Portland this weekend, supporting his older brother.

“I think for Nick Forester, he might have wanted to have one or both (of the players who opted out) so that he could have some really good competition,” Peter Mao said. “But for me, so long as there are people who are around my skill level or better, it doesn’t really add too much to have Nathan in it.”

In addition to two new individual champions, organizers are hoping to end a three-year streak of being forced inside for the final day of matches because of uncooperative weather. Monday’s backup venue is The Racket & Fitness Center on outer Congress Street in Portland.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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